So I’ve been a bit personal up to now, but I still want this blog to be a resource so here is a post about how to begin the legal process of changing your name.
Bare with me because although I live in Sydney I was born in Victoria, meaning my birth certificate is Victorian. So I can only comment my experience in regards to Victoria, but I will still include the process for New South Wales.
If you were born in NSW you will need to apply for a change of name with the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website for NSW (linked above). Assuming there’s no reason for you to be a “restricted person” the process is very easy. They really encourage you to apply for the name change via post rather than in person, which I count as a positive. By post you will need to print out and fill in this form. Within the form you will need to provide a reason why you are changing your name.
I wrote that I was transgender and that my birthname caused me dysphoria and stress. I also included that I had been using Sigh socially for a few years and that everyone in my life/and at work now knew me as this new name.
You must include with this filled out form, your original NSW birth certificate. You also need a photo copy of a few documentations, the photo copies are then signed by a Justice of the Peace for verification and included with you application. The first thing you need is something that shows a link between your photo and your signature. They give you a few options but the best two to use would be an Australian passport or drivers licence, I used my passport. Next you need a copy of something that is evidence of name usage within the community, again a few different options, easiest ones to include would be either your medicare card or credit/debit card, I used my medicare card. The last document you need is to prove your residential address, I would recommend Australian drivers licence, utility account (electricity, gas, water) or current tenancy of lease agreement. I used my drivers licence for this one.
Okay so fee’s! So it is $190, and you will have to also pay for a envelope to post your application to and from.
For Victoria the process is exactly the same, forms are just a bit different and the fee is less. As I said above, I handed in my original birth certificate, and had a JP sign the photo copies of my passport, medicare card and drivers licence.
The fee is $107.90 and I paid $7.80 for an express envelope they would send my corrected birth certificate back with. I then also had to pay for a envelope to send it down as well. So I don’t remember the exact day I sent everything down but the fee of (collectively) $115.70 was withdrawn from my account on the 27th of November, I would gather that this is the day that they started to process my name change. It took about a week for the money to actually clear and I received my new birth certificate I think on the 19th of December. The website approximated that it would take about 20 days and I find that very true.
It does still list my birthname, I believe if I ever am ever able to change the sex listed on my birth certificate my birthname will be removed, but as of right now that is not able to happen unfortunately.
Don’t think that things are now going to be changed instantaneously. If you’re like me it will actually take you some time to update all your details. Also please don’t think that you will never see or be called your birthname now that you have legally changed it. I hate to be the downer but its basically impossible to change your name on literally everything you have ever used. Just when I think I have updated everything I get an email from my car insurance provider, or an election comes up and I remember that I have to update my details. I find that if you anticipate that your birthname is still going to come up it doesn’t catch you off guard as much. Then you just update things as you become aware of them.
Obviously get the necessary ones done first! Things like, drivers license, medicare card, bank accounts, work details, passport, electoral enrollment, car registration, insurances, and utility accounts.
I’ve not had much hiccups in updating my name on most things. The RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) NSW did stuff me around a little, due only I think to the fact that I had an interstate birth certificate, and maybe a little of them not ever really having to update the first and middle name of someone, rather than a last name. I did get asked some awkward question as to why I was changing my name by the person who updated my details for my bank account. But I think this was more to try and make small talk, and they were a bit shocked when I candidly just said, “Because I’m transgender…” The only thing I am still having trouble with is my phone provider really.
Other than that it has been pretty smooth to update my details. I still sometimes find things my birthname is still attached to, but as I said, its expected.